Buying property in an online auction guide

Buying property in an online auction guide

Matthew Tooth, LendInvest

Auctions are an excellent way to quickly snap up a property, whether you’re investing in a buy-to-let property, looking for a renovation project or purchasing your own home. What’s more, the number of homes on offer through property auctions is on the rise - in the first six months of 2016 16,228 property lots were on offer, up from 15,409 over the same period last year, according to auction portal Essential Information Group.

But auctions are not just limited to physical auction houses. There are now a number of online auction sites, such as and, offering you the chance to snap up a property with just a few clicks of your mouse or even via your mobile device.

So how does the process work?

Get registered

If you want to bid on a property in an online auction, you will need to register with the auction site. The process varies between different sites; some will only look for your address and contact details, while others will want to see photographic ID and a reliance letter signed by your solicitor.

You may also need to pay a refundable registration fee.

Depending on the site, this process can take some time so be sure to do it in advance of the auction itself.

The property details

Around two to three weeks before an online auction is held, the details of the various lots will be published on the auction site.

This will generally detail things like the length of the lease, floor plans, legal details and the guide price.

With LOT11, you also benefit from seeing exactly which properties LendInvest is in principle happy to lend against.

What sorts of properties appear on auction sites?

Vendors marketing properties via auction sites are often looking for a quick sale at a fair price. This will include properties for sale from corporates (including banks and building societies), private vendors including probate sales, properties that are in the hands of an official receiver and properties owned by local authorities or housing associations.

Many properties which appear on auctions will be in need of some work, making them ideal for property investors looking to make a profit from a renovation project.

Some of these properties will require such extensive work - for example, they do not have a working kitchen or a bathroom - that you would not be able to arrange a traditional mortgage on them.

Arrange a viewing

It’s definitely a good idea to go and look around the property before the day of the auction. Viewing details will vary depending on the property - some will hold open days on specific dates, while others will offer individual appointments.

You can generally arrange viewings directly with the auctioneers or their joint agents.

Look out for addendums

There will occasionally be changes to the property information between when it is first published and the day of the auction.

These amended details may be published in the form of an announcement on the lot page of the auction site, while others will release a separate ‘addendum’ sheet.

For example, the guide price may have been reduced or the property may have been sold prior to the auction.

Get your finance in place

When you buy a property at an auction, you will generally have to pay a deposit of around 10% of the purchase price within 24 hours of the auction concluding and you will usually need to complete the purchase within 28 working days. As a result it is essential to work out how you are going to pay for it well in advance.

Organising a traditional mortgage may not be available on the property and will invariably take too long, which is why bridging loans are a popular choice for auction buyers who cannot fund a purchase in cash. Bridging loans are a short-term form of property finance, typically lasting for several months or up to a year. The selling point is that bridging finance lenders will generally be able to provide the funds for the purchase within a matter of days. This is a huge benefit, compared with the weeks’ or even months’ long waits you have to allow with many traditional mortgage lenders.

Once you have completed the purchase, you can then take your time to organise a traditional mortgage or buy-to-let mortgage on the property, or fix it up and then sell it on again.

Some lenders, like LendInvest, work with online auction houses to make the process for buyers easier. This means going through the catalogue in advance and making clear which properties we are willing to lend on.

The bidding process

There are a number of different online auction houses, and the way they format their auctions will be slightly different. With LOT11 for example, there is a live bidding process for each individual lot, which may last around 10 to 15 minutes. Others, like John Pye Auctions, run their auctions over a couple of days. Bidding on each lot begins at the same time, and you then have 48 hours in which to place bids. Make sure you familiarise yourself with how each auction site operates in advance.

Online auction houses that operate a live bidding process may allow you to pre-submit your highest offer. Similarly if you cannot bid online on the day you may be able to do so by telephone, though you will need to give the auction house notice.

Bidding costs you nothing more than your time, but you will also likely have to pay a ‘successful bid fee’ to the online auction house if you make the winning bid.

The reserve price

This is the lowest price that the vendor is prepared to accept for their property. If the bidding does not reach this price, then they do not have to sell. The reserve price won’t be published beforehand.

After the auction

If you make a winning bid, you have made a contract to complete the purchase within a matter of weeks. Failure to complete on the deal in the required time frame will mean you will lose your deposit. Hopefully you have the finance in place to complete the deal and you take ownership of your new property.

Join our mailing list:

Leave a comment

Our Next Event

Specialist Lending Roadshow June 2017

Specialist Lending Roadshow June 2017

Crewe - 20/06/2017

Northampton - 21/06/2017

Chingford - 22/06/2017

Brighton - 23/06/2017

Register now

Latest Comments

Oliver Conway
Oliver Conway 18 May 2017

Making a neat inventory is a good idea, but if the seller is not willing to provide it, can the buyer demand it?

view article
Bertrand 17 May 2017

First step to nationalisation of the private rented sector IMHO. Nanny state poking their noses into things yet again. I object, as a decent landlord, sometimes having to deal with some pretty awful tenants,...

view article
Izzy 16 May 2017

This is such a great a post. I love the detail you've gone into. It's a very useful article for helping those who are looking at deciding which sector they would like to go into! When I first started investing...

view article
paul burnham
paul burnham 30 Apr 2017

Jeremy Corbyn's pledge that a Labour government would build 500,000 new council houses must electrify the general election campaign. Reliance on markets and the profit motive has brought huge housing-related...

view article
CommercialTrust 28 Apr 2017

Sadiq Khan?s announcement of an online database of landlords and letting agents who have been convicted of housing offences, appears on face value to be a variation of the already implemented Database

view article
warren 26 Apr 2017

You're very welcome Mary! Glad you enjoyed them :)

view article
Mary Ward
Mary Ward 26 Apr 2017

Thank you for the wonderful ideas. First impressions can make or break a deal. It's sadly that many homeowners drop the kerb to create an off-street parking space.

view article
Tony Gimple
Tony Gimple 14 Apr 2017

I'm not at all surprised that so many landlords are still confused about what the tax changes really mean and how it will affect them. In particular, the blind rush to incorporation is leaving landlords...

view article
MH 13 Apr 2017

You are right that the bank holidays are going to be spoiled in looking for the properties. But people who want to sell their property and looking for the better relocation, they can get benefits of this...

view article
bnellyb 08 Apr 2017

There will be an exodus of private landlords over the next 5 years as tax changes take effect, private landlords provide an important service to the rental market, why do housing associations and councils...

view article
Fred Cassman
Fred Cassman 07 Apr 2017

"Make it look like you are at home": often people forget this and share on facebook their location!

view article
jared townsend
jared townsend 05 Apr 2017

It'll be interesting to see how & if the Government's asset sale regarding mortgages helps

view article

Related stories

More articles from Property

Specialist Lending Roadshow June 2017

20th-23rd June

4 days
7 specialists
4 locations
Free to attend

Click here to register now